Every American high school student learns about the Puritans and their "city upon a hill," an iconic metaphor for how our country was founded on distinctly Christian religious ideals. However, this understanding overlooks the complex spiritual history of the United States, from its very origins. One Nation, Under Gods: A New American History shows how the nation was shaped by multiple religious traditions, a rich interplay of beliefs making up the fabric of American life.
Manseau provides countless examples of how the country diverged from a standard, monotheistic Christian mantel. Covering five centuries of history, he reexamines familiar events through the lens of broader religious understanding. From Thomas Jefferson's assertion that religion should be protected whether it be "twenty gods or no god," a foundational argument for tolerance, to the complex social origins of the Salem witch trials, One Nation demonstrates again and again how our country was shaped by an incredibly wide spectrum of beliefs.
Peter Manseau is the author of the memoir Vows, the novel Songs for the Butcher's Daughter, the travelogue Rag and Bone, and the forthcoming retelling of American history One Nation, Under Gods.
Winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the American Library Association's Sophie Brody Medal for Outstanding Achievement in Jewish Literature, the Ribalow Prize for Fiction, and a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, he has also been shortlisted for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize and the Prix Médicis étranger, awarded to the best foreign novel published in France.
A founding editor of KillingTheBuddha.com and coauthor with Jeff Sharlet of Killing the Buddha: A Heretic's Bible, he received his doctorate in religion from Georgetown University, and is currently curating an exhibit on America's diverse religious past for the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History.